Managerial choice key for Dodgers’ new GM

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! OK, so he did talk like a general manager. Said all the right things about character and integrity and respect. Those things difficult to equate by the old general manager. Now quickly there will be a telling sign whether Ned Colletti really is cut out to be the Dodgers’ new general manager. Welcome to the Dodgers; now, for starters, go make the one decision that could most determine your future as a GM. And, oh yeah, hurry up. Colletti had an impressive debut at his press conference Wednesday, from the stories of his blue-collar roots to the answers he gave, and astutely did not give. He has joined the carousel that has been the Dodgers almost from the moment Frank and Jamie McCourt purchased the club two years ago, and in the midst of all this dizziness, has been asked to quickly and calmly direct the team to stability. The Dodgers need a manager. Make that: The Dodgers still need a manager. This is where we came in, of course, or at least where Paul DePodesta went out. The team was down to the wire replacing manager Jim Tracy when – hold everything – it was suddenly time to get a new GM. The Dodgers are the only team in baseball without a manager. And it is getting unusually late in the offseason to be without one. Free agents will begin signing with clubs soon, and most actually have this crazy notion they want to know who’ll they’ll play for every day. Colletti, 50, has waited a long time to be in this position, and now has no time to waste. “There is some sense of urgency, but I never stop thinking,” Colletti said. “When I started thinking about the prospects of being the general manager of the Dodgers, I began to think of who was out there I would like to talk to.” This key hire could define him as a GM before hanging the first Boston fern in his office. It might not be completely fair, but then fairness can sometimes be in short supply around Dodger Stadium these days. No surprise, Colletti has arrived knowing the man he is most interested in pursuing to succeed Tracy, and with a backup. “I’ve got one in mind, sure,” he said. “But I don’t know if the one in mind is the right man yet. “I know just enough about him to think he might be. But I have to spend some time with him and find out if he is the man. If he’s not, then I have somebody else who is right alongside.” Naturally, Colletti wasn’t supplying names. He’s spent his 24-year career in the major leagues with the Giants and Cubs. He knows a few people. The one guy who played for him in San Francisco and was a finalist – at least for McCourt – in the suspended managerial search was ex-Dodger Orel Hershiser. Hershiser had such an impressive interview with McCourt and Tommy Lasorda that it seemed no simple coincidence at the DePodesta press conference that the team owner kept trumpeting the importance of bringing ex-Dodgers back to the fold. Then he went out and hired a guy working for the Giants. An ex-Dodger as manager could appease fans infuriated that someone from the rival Giants was now the GM, and few modern Dodgers have been as popular as Hershiser. Colletti, a Chicago native, admitted he was highly impressed by Hershiser during the one season he spent in the Bay Area in 1998. “I got to know him pretty well,” Colletti said. “Got to know him on the field, off the field. Spent a lot of time with him. A very smart man. He has great knowledge, class. “It was seven years ago and he’s still somebody in my mind who stands out.” Someone who is managerial material? “Might be,” he said. McCourt said he will let Colletti run this search, but then that’s what he said about DePodesta and look what happened when that didn’t go to his liking. “It’s his job to do now, to get that manager in place,” McCourt said. “Of course, I’m going to share my viewpoints. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s his responsibility now to go find the best manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers.” Colletti has to learn his new staff. Has to figure out who to retain, who to let go, who to bring in. He has to learn about all these hot young prospects the Dodgers keep praising, figure out where the team is with free agents, what trades are out there. Colletti seems already keenly aware of the club’s failings, mentioning Wednesday the infield corners, the outfield and starting pitching. There is much to do, yet his biggest decision comes first. It’s the one thing DePodesta was never allowed to do: hire a manager. “I’m looking for somebody who knows how to win the last game of the season,” Colletti said. “Who knows how to get into a game late and outmaneuver the other manager. Who relates to every player. From the 22-year-old kid trying to get his feet wet, to the 35-year-old veteran where the sun is setting but still has some energy and a little left. “Somebody well rounded. Somebody who will communicate with me daily, somebody I’ll spend a lot of time with. We’re not going to manage the manager, but I want to find a manager we can talk to, a coaching staff we can talk to, so that we all know where we’re going, we can all learn from each other.” He needs somebody who can quickly help turn around a team that lost 91 games last season. Somebody who just may define him as a GM. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Daily News four times a week. He can be reached at [email protected]last_img